Inputting Textbooks into my tablet . .

Discussion in 'The Tablet PC Life' started by leaftye, Oct 21, 2007.

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  1. irhumbled

    irhumbled Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Well with my convertible notebook on its way from gateway, I've been boning up on how to input my textbooks into my laptop. I've read about taking photos via a digital camera and then having software analyze them and turn them into editable and searchable text pdf files ready to annotated and the such. That seems like one route I might use. Is there any other? Actual flatbed scanners maybe? Or what about this thing I read about that is a portable scanner (I think it was called something like the docupen)? I'm just starting out college and I'm thinking I got four more years, and saving money by selling back textbooks or never buying them would let me save a lot of money so I'm willing to pay for right now would give me my textbooks in editable form on my laptop and wouldn't take very long to do each textbook. I want good quality I'm willing to pay for and spend the time for.

    P.S. I might decide using a digital camera to be the best test. What level of MP should I have? I have a phone with 5 MP's, would that be sufficient? Or should I go higher? And what about dedicated cameras? I don't have one and wouldn't mind buying one . . . what does everyone suggest (and how much would they cost?). Thanks a lot guys, your help = invaluable.
     
  2. leaftye

    leaftye Old timer Super Moderator

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    I use a Plustek Omnibook 3600. If you buy your books a couple weeks before the semester you'll get a good price, then you can sell it to a desperate classmate when classes start.....and even for a good price to your classmate.

    I can only scan 4-7 pages per minute. The only problem with a digital camera is that you need to keep everything perfectly still, which means some type of stand for the camera, and preferably a remote shutter trigger. I think the Omnibook is the best way to go.

    If you get a camera, I suggest a Fujifilm with the SuperCCD, which is basically the 31fd, 41fd, and 50fd, and also the prosumer 6000fd. These SuperCCD cameras offer the best indoor macro pictures in a consumer level camera. Megapixels don't matter much....I believe a 4 megapixel camera would already end up taking pictures that are over 300 dpi if you take a picture of each page (vs two side-by-side).
     
  3. kureshii

    kureshii Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I'm using a Casio Exilim Z1050 with a cheap tripod to scan my textbooks. the end result isn't text-searchable and isn't the prettiest way, but it sure is the most convenient - I can scan 15-20 pages per minute, or a 1000-page textbook in less than an hour. Post-editing takes about half an hour - batch cropping and brightness/levels adjustment in Microsoft Picture Manager, then printing to PDF.

    Once I have the money I might consider better options, but for now this is the fastest and best method I can come up with.
     
  4. mcurry5

    mcurry5 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I was waiting for a topic like this. For those of you who have done this please post more of how, what you used. Also if possible could you post a sample of the end results ? I am thinking of getting a tablet PC and very curious about this.

    Thanks
     
  5. leaftye

    leaftye Old timer Super Moderator

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    Scanner: Plustek Opticbook 3600 (it's a book scanner)
    Software: Adobe PDF 8 Pro, XnView, scanner software

    I try to scan things in as black & white, gray scale or color, depending on the page content. I usually size the scan window to by slightly smaller than the page. I have my scanned files saved as png files saved into one folder. I right-click the folder and combine them as a (Adobe) PDF. I do the OCR (exact copy), "Reduce File Size", and I'll add bookmarks and split into separate files if the book is huge.

    I used to use XnView to resize and straighten the pages, a batch contrast/color/gamma correction, and reduce the amount of colors. This takes a while though, and I'll only do it when quality or minimum file size is a high priority.

    Here's a sample of a book scanned in at 300 dpi, B&W:
    Sample 1

    Here's a sample in color at 300 dpi, with color/contract/gamma adjustments made in XnView. Please note that this book had very thin pages, so there is some bleed-thru.
    Sample 2


    Important note: If you get a Plustek, once it works, never EVER unplug it in any way while the computer or scanner is on.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  6. irhumbled

    irhumbled Pen Pal - Newbie

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    What did you pay for your scanner? The model you listed seems to fetch a fee of a bit over $200. Is this the going rate? Should I instead go with a digital camera that may be cheaper but get more regular use taking photos (while, admitedely, taking long to convert textbooks into electronic form?). Your help has been very educational. Thanks
     
  7. mcurry5

    mcurry5 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Leaftye. that second link was great. The colors and words were perfect. Just curious as to how long it would take to do a book lets say 500 pages. Thats probably on the small side for college text. But just for reference.

    Thanks
     
  8. leaftye

    leaftye Old timer Super Moderator

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    Yeah, the scanner is a bit expensive. I think I paid about $230, but it quickly pays for itself if you sell your books as soon as you finish scanning them. I believe I already said that your book would still be in perfect condition, and you could sell it at the beginning of the semester for as much or more than what you paid.

    The camera is an option, but I usually take crooked, blurry and inconsistent pictures. While that may be good enough to read it, my pictures can't be fixed well enough to look as good as images from a scanner. If you get a camera, I strongly recommend a Fujifilms F50fd ($300, review link) because it has a large sensor that makes it the best consumer camera at taking close pictures with poor lighting, which is exactly what you'd be doing. They also have a camera that's around $150 with the same large sensor, but the rest of the camera has a few compromises to reach that low price. I recommend fabricating some sort of book camera tripod to achieve consistency and minimize shake induced blur in your pictures....it could be as simple as a block of wood at the top with a few holes drilled in it for wooden dowels as legs, and a mount for the camera.

    The camera setup can be extremely fast if you're not interested in making it look very good or be text searchable. If all you're trying to do is read the book, the camera is probably the best way to go. I use the ability to extract text to make those "podcasts" on my website which allow my textbooks to be read to me.

    I'm thinking about putting together a better camera setup to make copies of books and science journals at the library, especially for materials where I want color copies, but can't check it out of the library. I'd buy the Fujifilm F50fd right now if it used regular AA batteries.....that's a big deal for me, but the rechargeable lithium battery can take ~500 pictures, and that's good enough for most people.....but no good if you went to the library and tried to copy a 1000 page book.


    ** edit: You can buy the F50fd from Buydig for $250 shipped. Better to spend $250 on something that will work instead of $100 on a cheapie that may be unsatisfactory, followed by another $250 for the one you should've bought the first time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  9. irhumbled

    irhumbled Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Well I have to admit, for me, its important to have the ability to search text. Something of the order of what you posted (2nd link) is my goal. I plan on using the text as references when righting papers and highlighting/annotating as we go over the book in class. I'm a philosophy major so I have a lot of annotating and highlighting to do. Also, having searchable text is a must to find quotes and essays on.

    Does that mean I should be going with the book scanner?
     
  10. leaftye

    leaftye Old timer Super Moderator

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    A book scanner is a great way to take weight out of your backpack. If you can afford to destroy your books by cutting the bindings off, and want incredible speed, get a sheetfed scanner like the Fujitsu Scansnap. If you cannot afford to damage your books, get a flatbad book scanner like the Plustek Omnibook 3600.

    I prefer to use PDF's, so I use Acrobat. Abby Finereader can also be used, but I barely have any experience with it, although Acrobat is much easier for me to understand how to use. If money is tight, you can scan to TIF files, then use MODI (Microsoft Office Document Imaging) to do the OCR work. OCR'd TIF files aren't as easy to use though. Another option is to "print" the image files to Onenote, then allow Onenote to OCR the pages. As you can see, there are many options. In case I haven't mentioned it, I OCR all my books.

    As for me, I'm currently using a Plustek book scanner, but if my time becomes more precious, I'll accept that I have to go further into debt to buy back time, and I'll get a Scansnap scanner.
     
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